The Shift

Thank you all for your kinds words on my last rambling post. I know I need to go easier on myself but it’s so hard. I worry that if I’m always easy on myself I’ll lose sight of my values, of what is important to me, and become a person I don’t want to be. It’s such a fine line to walk and something I struggle with every day. How do I both live my values and give myself permission to make mistakes, to “let it go,” to not do that which I think I should be doing? I think most women struggle with that.

Do men worry about these things? Somehow I doubt most guys are wondering how the state of their kitchen reflects on their character, but I know so many women who do… or maybe it’s just my mom.

Now on to more super deep, intense reflections.

Yesterday I was at the park and I saw a woman with her small child… and her burgeoning baby bump. It was funny because I saw it, and I kind of did this internal flinch, preparing myself for the flood of negative emotions, when I realized that they weren’t coming. Looking at that women with her small child, and another on the way, didn’t gut me like it has in the recent past. In fact, I didn’t feel one way or the other about her situation. It was so strange!

(Oh god, you’re probably thinking, she’s going to talk about TTC#2 AGAIN!? We’ve already heard about it 100 times this month! And you’re right, but this time’s different, I promise, and after this I’ll probably be able to put it away for a good long while, so please, hear me out – or feel free to click away. I totally understand).

I don’t know when the shift happened, I think it was happening even before I had the conversation with Mi.Vida. In fact, the shift must have allowed me to come to those conclusions and create that plan. I guess I just didn’t realize that my feelings on the subject were still settling, even after we’d determined how to move forward.

So yeah. The shift. I guess the best way to describe it is a shift from a place of anxiety and worry to a place of peace and acceptance. For the first time, I think in my life, I feel at peace with the uncertainty of our next steps. For the first time I feel ready (at least as ready as I can be) for whatever might happen as we attempt to have a second child. For the first time in my life I don’t feel scared and maybe for that simple reason, I’m no longer in a rush to “get it over with” so that if there is tragedy and loss, I can face it and move forward.

Actually I am still scared, but it’s not the crippling, paralyzing type of fear that I used to feel. It’s not panic inducing. It doesn’t drive me to make irrational decisions or expect the worst.

I have to admit, this new sense of calm is quite freeing. But more than that, it’s strange. I have literally never felt this way about family building in my entire life. From a very young age I worried that I wouldn’t be able to have the family I hoped for. Having my daughter helped lift some of that anxiety, but the uncertainty of whether we could complete our family remained. Now, for the first time, I don’t feel that anxiety anymore. Now, for some reason, I’ve come to accept that I don’t have any control over how we grow our family or any losses we might experience on the way.

On top of all that, or better said behind all of that, is a faith that we will eventually have the family we hope for. It might not look exactly as we’d imagined it: the spacing between children might be different that we’d hoped, there might be losses in between Isa and her sister or brother, heck, maybe Isa’s sibling will come to us from a different family! All I know is that we will get there, some how, some way and we will survive the journey to our family’s final destination.

I don’t know where this faith comes from. I don’t know why I suddenly feel confident that I could weather the possible devastation that may lay ahead. Maybe it’s the stories I’ve followed, of strong and resilient women who’ve survived unimaginable loss. Maybe it’s the realization that arriving at your destination does something to (at least somewhat) heal the wounds incurred in the getting there. Maybe it’s realizing that my imagined way isn’t necessarily the best way. Maybe it’s knowing that even when we have the family we’d always dreamed of, there will still be struggle.

Does loss still scare me? Yes. Do I think that losing a child wouldn’t devastate me? Absolutely not. I know that it would. I know that I’d be a different person for the rest of my life. But for some reason now I think I could survive as that person, maybe one day even thrive, despite the broken pieces inside me.

Maybe I’m being naive. Maybe I’m kidding myself. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up enveloped in that life-long feeling of dread once again. All I know is that right now I feel peace. I feel calm. I feel grateful for what I have and hopeful for what I will have. I feel ready to concentrate on my present life despite being unsure of my future.

Before we were TTC, when I was desperately trying to make Mi.Vida understand why I was so afraid, why we had to start NOW, I would return again and again to my mother’s story. “She lost a daughter. She suffered three still births. She lost so much! There are seven years between us! SEVEN YEARS of suffering!” Without fail Mi.Vida would always reply, “But she had you, she had your sister, she has her family. She’s happy.”

For my entire life I’ve focused on the seven years between me and my sister. I focused on the loss and the pain. I looked past my mom’s eventual family, the family that made her very happy, to focus on the struggle. Mi.Vida always saw the happy ending but I only ever saw the difficult journey. Now, finally, I have faith in the eventual destination and can accept the uncertainty how we’ll get there.

6 responses

  1. Good for you! I’m glad that you’re coming to terms with the lack of control we have over family-building … and allowing yourself to see the positive end result of family building: the family.

  2. Love this post. Basically, I started following the IF bloggy community very soon to when this shift happened for me. I can’t explain the difference once you accept your own lack of control, but it changed everything for me. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have (a baby), I focused on what I DID have. Which was actually all good stuff. I allowed myself to imagine a childless future without judgment that my life was “not supposed” to be like that. Instead, I could think without fear or misery about a hypothetical future in which I was happy AND childless. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want kids anymore it’s just that something … shifted. Soon after I realized this shift had occurred (brought to my attention when a friend had a baby, and I realized that, wonder of wonders, I wasn’t spending ANY mental energy on wishing it were me; begrudging her her baby or birth story or BFing in front of me, whatever. I was just HAPPY for her without any caveats. And totally able to see that her baby had NOTHING to do with me, except for that this is something in her life and I’m her friend. All stuff that would have been impossible a year previous!) – anyway, soon after, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant.

    I have followed people in the blogosphere since, and have become very attached to certain blogger’s stories, but because of this shift and me getting pregnant I never felt the need to start my own blog – I don’t really have much to say a lot of the time. I don’t have the same frustrations and anger I used to. Wish I had known about this community back when I still had a LOT of stuff to work out. Now, when I read a post that is just full of bitterness and pain and fear from an IFer, especially an IFer who is focusing on someone else’s family or fertility, the best wish I have in my heart for them is not actually to get pregnant and have a baby (although I am certainly rooting for them in that regard!) It is that they achieve this shift, and stop feeling hurt by things not meant to hurt them, and that they can be happy without the one thing they want. Not because I think they shouldn’t want it or shouldn’t get to have what I have, but I just know myself how much calmer, grounded, happy, fulfilled, and SANE I was after I reached some sort of acceptance, you know? It was the difference between living a very sad frustrating life of torture and denial vs. just living MY life, which it turns out was/is pretty good.

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